So what does it all look like? That moment when someone has a big project near completion and they're stuck in their workshop trying to finish, clean, and also test fit their work? In this instance I was able to get a look at what Fabricator Djinn and Spifzaya had been working on for Blizzcon. First off before I get to the questions with Fabricator Djinn, know that I have got to see what his whole project started off as a bit ago. It's pretty interesting to see what limitations one has get overcome with time and the acquisition of the right tools for the job. One day you have different pieces when you stop by to chat and then all of a sudden a full suit is nearly finished as it rests in the workshop. So without much more, let's get to the questions.
DP: So first of all, what got you started doing all of this and how do you keep motivated?
FD: At first, I started because I wanted to be a Stormtrooper but couldn’t afford a suit of the armor. I loved star wars and the idea of marching with a bunch of other nerds appealed greatly to me (the 501st specifically). I had never built a costume before, so my initial attempt at building a 501st ready costume from scratch failed as spectacularly as you’d imagine. I ended up instead making a pretty decent Mandalorian Merc costume, and after the success of that and my enjoyment of the community there... I just couldn’t stop building.
DP: Also knowing that you're from Hawaii and transplanted to California, what's the biggest difference in materials that you noticed being used? Especially how things might have even changed recently with the advent of easy access to thermoplastics.
FD: The materials difference is HUGE. There is actual industry here. Actual plastic manufacturers and every craft store imaginable. PEOPLE SHIP STUFF HERE. In Hawaii if you want to order something, you don’t get free shipping. A .2 oz stick of PC ram costs $20 to ship. This even applies to the vendors in some fashion, as very little is actually produced on island. So something like a 8’x4’ sheet of plastic that costs $20 here would cost $100 there or even more to ship! It was insane! I used For Sale signs from home depot and Rubbermaid trashcans for all of my armor. I had to heat those trashcans up with a propane blowtorch to heat shape them! Life is hard for Hawaii cosplayers and I thank the emperor every time I go to SD plastics and am able to get what I need for a price I can afford. Mad respect to anyone still building elaborate suits out there. Pepakura was king when I lived there. Paper is still cheap, and resin is everywhere because of surfboards and whatnot. Its getting better but... still tough.
DP: What advice would you give to anyone who wants to start out? What things should they look out for and put practice into based on any troubles you or anyone you know has had? Also any basic equipment or anything like that they should look into purchasing or finding a Makerspace style operation that might help.
FD: The internet is your friend. This is the golden age of information, especially in the cosplay community. People are actually making their living providing dedicated information for costuming specifically. People like Bill Doran, Kamui, Volpin, SKS props WM armory the list goes on and on and on. Want to work with foam? There are the Foamsmith books, want to work with worbla? Kamui's books are there. Not to mention the endless stream of build logs on every forum imaginable. Research! Watch videos! Try it out!
For most things, all you need is a heat gun, and exacto knife, and a decent hot glue gun and a dremel. You can get endlessly fancier from there, but with those 4 things you can build the base of pretty much anything you can think of. If you don’t have a workspace or want to get fancier with 3D printing CNC and vaccuforming... a Makerspace is a great way to do that without shelling out the $10K plus to get those things yourself and maintain them. It’s a wonderful time to build in.. nowadays peoples first costume is
often as high quality as the best costumes around from 5 years ago. Its insane. Blizzcon this year is a good example of the drastic jump in overall quality.
DP: What was the biggest challenge you had to overcome in making Imperius?
FD: For me, it was motivation. I struggled to make this costume. It took me over 3.5 years to finish because I’d get home from a long day in the office and just not have the energy to go out there and get to work. There were times where I’d spend 6-8 months between working on parts of it. I finished half a dozen other projects before I finally got down to it. The big push for me was getting into the contest, and seeing Spif working so hard on her outfit every day.
Aside from the motivation, I had a very hard time with the paint job. I wanted to replicate the extreme glow from Act 2, which if anyone has ever tried to get a near chrome shiny finish on something knows it is quite difficult to achieve and very hard to keep intact. Having only one primary color to work with (GOOOLLLLLLDDDD) it also made making the details pop a bit more difficult without taking away from the shiny effect I wanted. I accomplished my goal for the suits look, but it is not perfect or what I wanted. Painting is a big challenge for me still, and I have a lot to learn and learned a lot on this project. If I had dirtied it up more, I may have placed higher in the rankings – I will keep this with me for a long time.
DP: Was there anyone who got you specifically interested in making different props and costumes? Let alone who do you look up to now in terms of someone who's work ethic you admire?
FD: No one person got me specifically interested in props and armor, there were a lot of builders I admired when I started out (and still do). My now friend Kommissar Kai was probably the first person whose work I tried to emulate, his 40k stuff was amazing and helped me a lot when building my space marine. Probably the largest influence on the quality of work and someone whos work ethic I admire still is Volpin Props. Even when he tries to make a bad prop, it still turns out pretty good. His attention to detail and willingness to redo it until it is perfect is something I admire a lot, and has forced me to up my game in trying to achieve cleaner lines and better quality overall.
DP: Last, since you've been hosting prop days and doing streaming, what is one thing you would like to see happen in terms of supporting/helping others further their crafting?
FD: I personally would like to see more collaborative work. Prop builders getting together and sharing techniques with each other and the community I think could push us all to the next level. We all seem to try to be good at everything, and there is a limit to what we can teach ourselves effectively. We all know something our peers don’t, and I think it would be really cool to see how two people tackle the same project together.
So there you have it, a bit of overall insight into Fabricator Djinn. To see where he was in terms of this project from the start to finish has been astounding. Let alone the fact that both him and Spif were working on separate projects for the same goal in one space is also amazing. So if anything, go out and do something since at the basics, that's what most of us plan to accomplish. Note that a lot of the people mentioned are willing to give advice if you reach out for it. But this is one project out of many to come, so if anything let me know what you all come up with soon, alright?
You can also contact Fabricator Djinn through his Facebook if you want to ask any questions I I didn't really get or if there are specifics you would like to know. Otherwise thanks for reading and a big thanks to both Fabricator Djinn and Spifzaya for letting me get some pictures of their projects in the workshop!